Turn out in elections is a very important issue to me. With the McCutcheon and Citizens United decisions out of the Supreme Court, it is obvious that we will not be able to match the big money donors buying politicians. Turn out is the only weapon we have. They know that and hence spending literally millions to keep you from exercising that right. We must fight voter suppression where ever it rears its ugly head.
With that in mind here are some of the parameters. We must get the same people that came out in 2008 and 2012 to show up in 2014. Democrats did not show up in 2010 and look what happened, especially at the state level. We must get Republican voters to change their minds so that we can try and restore some sanity to the House and the Senate. We must convince voters that the midterms are just as important as presidential years. It is a tall order to fill but achievable.
It is very interesting to note that somewhere along the line Americans were convinced that if it was not a presidential election year that elections did not matter. There is a different way of presenting it to the "midterms do not matter crowd" which is huge by the way. Years of Republican downplaying and suppressing the vote and then along came ALEC and voter suppression was all the rage in the red states. They don't even pretend to hide it any longer. Just look at Ohio and their out of control Secretary of State. If he could, he would make it illegal for Democrats and Independents to vote, but I digress...
So, us political junkies realize all of these things. How are we going to talk to those that do not pay attention to politics at all? I have changed the way I talk to people about voting and have had some success. Oh don't be fooled that the extreme right wingers in my family and friends are budged at all, let's not get that ambitious.
Below the fold I will explain how I changed talking to people about voting.
What is the big picture here? - Turn Out!
The midterms don't matter.
The first group of people I have been thinking about is the people that are convinced that the midterms are just not as important as presidential election years. I like to point out that there are only two people in the entire country that are elected nationally and that is the president and the vice president. I usually get a 'Well I never thought about it that way..." Then I go on to say that every two years the entire house gets elected. Why are two people more important than 435? Hmm they say... Plus one third of the Senate gets elected every two years. That is when they usually say- interesting, maybe the midterms are just as important. Then I say- Get to the polls.
Republicans that have had enough.
The second group are the same people I have been telling that they are wrong for voting Republican. I have stopped doing that. It is one thing to stop watching Fox News and another to fill the void with constructive alternatives. I try to steer them to Daily KOS or Rachel Maddow and let her explain it - she clearly does a better job at it than I do. What is my point? Telling them they are wrong is only going to alienate them. But, on the other hand it is noticeable that Republicans are leaving the party and that is very encouraging. This is a very important group because it is red state pissed off people at the Republican party that are going to counteract the effects of Gerrymandering. I love seeing what was thought to be a safe red district go to the blue side. The one thing I never do with this group is gloat and say I told you so. We can catch more flies with honey than vinegar with this group. Then I say- "Get to the Polls!"
The Discouraged Crowd.
Thirdly, we have the "Why bother? My vote is not going to make a difference." crowd. They are right from a certain point of view. If you don't know why your going to the polls then how can you properly vote for the right candidate. I tell them my vote helped put Tammy Duckworth in the house and it also helped remove Joe Walsh. A double bonus from my point of view. This is another group of people you don't want to tell them they are wrong. I usually suggest- Determine what is important to you and start there.
One of the silent effects of the McCutcheon decision is the discouragement factor. Boy oh boy my vote did not mean anything before, it is really not going to mean anything now. Plus all of the Republican gridlock is a contributing factor to the discouragement of voters. Voter Id laws, cutting back on early voting, restricting access to the polls and many other tactics all contribute to the discouragement factor.
Both sides are just as bad.
What I have found are people that are discouraged with politics as a whole. The facts do not bear out the claim that both sides are just as bad. Republicans are worse. With that being said, in some ways both sides are just as bad. Take a congressman for example. He or she spends more than 50% of their time fund raising. Two, three, four and five nights a week, and the weekends too. Any hopes of getting reelected requires money. The Koch's have seen to that. That is why my inbox is flooded with very important issues that always lead to 'Contribute" button. With guys like the Koch, Adelson and Rauner pouring hundreds of millions into the game, the discouragement factor sets in. The average voter feels like they have an eyedropper at the edge of the ocean. People are more concerned about putting food on the table and paying the mortgage.
That is why I say the only thing that can counteract the flood of money in politics is turn out turn out turn out
The encouraging point I would like to make is that for all the money that billionaires poured in they did not get a very high return on their investment in the 2012 elections.
My vote does not matter.
I have a standard response to this complaint- Ok, if your vote does not count then why are people spending hundreds of millions of dollars to keep you from exercising that right. These Billionaires and Karl Rove types know full well that if people show up it is game over. GAME OVER! Then I say- Get to the polls!!!
As of this writing, the election is 202 days away and now is the time we need to encourage people to get out there and vote.